Sincerity from Abe needed

Updated: 2014-11-24 08:18

(China Daily)

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If they really want relations with China to substantially improve, earnestness to build political trust is needed from the Japanese government and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. But we doubt that Abe and his cabinet have it.

In a written reply to Japanese Innovation Party lawmaker Nobuhiko Isaka, the Japanese cabinet denied that there is a dispute over the Diaoyu Islands and said that the Japanese government's stance on the islands will not change. The reply also said that the visit by the prime minister to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is among the "political difficulties" Japan and China have agreed to overcome.

The four-point consensus both governments reached, after Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and visiting Japanese National Security Advisor Shotaro Yachi met early this month, emphasizes that both sides will follow the principles and spirit of the four political documents between the two countries and continue to develop the China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefit.

It also says that the two countries acknowledge that different positions exist between them regarding the tensions that have emerged in recent years over the Diaoyu Islands and some waters in the East China Sea and agree to prevent further aggravation of the situation through dialogue and consultation.

However, the denial by Abe's cabinet that there is any dispute over the Diaoyu Islands gives the impression that the Japanese government is trying to play with words on this thorny issue. If we have different positions, it means we have a dispute over the Islands.

The Japanese government should be clear about China's stand on the Diaoyu Islands and it should also understand the Chinese government's sincerity in seeking a solution to the issue through dialogue and consultation.

Even though the four-point consensus does not explicitly mention Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine, it agrees to overcome "political obstacles" in bilateral relations in the spirit of "facing history squarely and looking forward to the future."

China has never ceased to oppose visits by Japanese politicians to the shrine where Class-A Japanese war criminals are enshrined. Abe's cabinet knows that.

It was not easy for China and Japan to reach their four-point consensus. China is sincere in seeking a solution to break the diplomatic stalemate between the two countries. But from what Abe's cabinet has said about both the Diaoyu Islands and visits to Yasukuni Shrine, we see no sign that Japan is earnest about improving ties with China on the basis of the consensus.

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